Last week saw former Kawasaki rider Andrew Pitt make his debut with the Moriwaki Racing outfit during a packed preseason test session, at Sepang, Malaysia.

Pitt had believed his Kawasaki seat was safe for 2004, but team green choose to replace the 2001 World Supersport champ with experienced Yamaha rider Shinya Nakano, leaving the 27-year-old with very limited options.

As a result, most believed Pitt would be forced to take some form of Superbike seat this season, but he will now remain in the premier-class on the RCV powered Moriwaki Dream Fighter, competing in a maximum of five GPs as a wild-card in 2004.

Day one of the test saw Pitt asked to perform a shakedown on the 2003 spec MD211VF, as raced by Tamaki Serizawa in last year's Pacific Grand Prix. The aim was to allow the Australian to not only acclimatise to the machine, but also compare progress with the 2004 racer he would ride in the following days.

"The engine feels very smooth and 'mild'," said Pitt of the world championship winning V5 powerplant. "It is so smooth that it feels as if I am going slow - even though I'm not."

On day two of the test, Pitt got his first taste of the'04 MD211VF and split his time between providing vital data and feedback on the machine to his team, and testing new Dunlop tyres.

Pitt's previous best Sepang lap was a 2mins 6.1secs, set on a Dunlop shod ZX-RR last season, and he would circulate in the 2min 7-9secs range over the following days on his Moriwaki.

However, the fourth and final day of the test saw the team attempt a flying lap on a specially selected Dunlop, and the result was a 2mins 5.5secs effort - Pitt's best Sepang lap. The Aussie would later state that a 2mins 4secs was possible, a pace that would equal the best set by Yamaha mounted Marco Melandri and Norick Abe a few days later.

"When I went for a quick lap, I was a little tired from the previous three days testing in hot weather," admitted Andrew. "I am sure that if we were to spend some time setting up a bike for one lap and I was in a good condition, I could bring the bike into the 2mins 04secs for sure. The engine is really smooth and the Moriwaki chassis is much easier for a rider to control."

For team principal - and chassis specialist - Mamoru Moriwaki the test offered encouragement that the outfit's 2004 racer will be a significant step forward, as he gets ever nearer to the goal of a full time MotoGP entry.

"First I would like to welcome our new rider, Andrew Pitt," began Moriwaki, before turning to the results of the test: "We brought in a newly designed chassis, heavily modified from that of the '03 models, and from the four days of testing, I was able to confirm that we are heading in the right direction.

"The important thing from this stage is to raise the potential of the bike, as well as the tyres, up enough for a high level of competition," he continued. "We are hoping and planning for a maximum of five wild-card entries in '04 and aiming for a full season entry in '05."

 

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